My husband, Thom, shared a very interesting article by Mike Breen detailing the reasons why the “Missional” church movement (not to mention other various “seeker friendly” or “church planting” initiatives and movements active today) will fail in ten to fifteen years. The reason may not be what you think.
It’s not because we live in a post-Christian society.
It’s not because the church has a bad reputation with the secular world.
It’s not because of the “culture wars”.
Nope. The problem (as discussed by Mike Breen) is a lack of discipleship within the church. Sure. We plant faith communities, do mission work, start building programs, gain “converts” at big “crusades, and what have you but what’s missing in the lives of many Christians is an understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ every day.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for some time, discussing with my husband, and wondering where the disconnect is? Why do we have so many people who will say the “sinner’s prayer” and then go back to doing exactly what they’ve done in the past? How is it possible more folks outside the church have a better knowledge of what’s in the Bible than the people who profess to believe what it teaches?
There needs to be an answer if we are to answer the call which Jesus has placed upon us to be “salt and light”.
The question is what does it mean to be a Christian disciple? What do we mean when we speak of “discipleship”? One of the best answers I’ve found is at Got Questions. There is an excellent article on what the Bible means when Jesus says we are to “make disciples” and to be a disciple ourselves. The basic info is this:
- Jesus Comes First (Mark 8:34-38): We are meant to be different from this world. Society is not meant to inform our beliefs, we are meant to make an impact on society for the better. Our first duty is to serve the Lord in everything (which means giving up what we want or what sounds fun sometimes). The bible says we are to “…put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Colossians 3:5.
- Be Obedient to Jesus Teaching (John 8:31-32): Jesus was our perfect example of what it means to live a life of faith according to God’s purpose. We are meant to follow HIS example in how we live day by day, how we act with others, and how we should react when confronted by temptation.
- Healthy Spiritual Growth (John 15:5-8): We are called to hold onto Christ through our relationship with Him. In this way, the Holy Spirit helps us to grow and learn. He is the one who transforms us to become more like Jesus. But we have to be willing to abide in Jesus first.
- Love One Another ((John 13:34-35): This can be a hard one. Those who profess Jesus Christ as Savior are brothers and sisters adopted into God’s family. BUT…we are all human beings with a mass of feelings, hopes, desires, and hang ups which can affect how we interact with one another. We ARE meant to love one another in Christ (even if we don’t like each other very much) and act upon it accordingly.
- Make Disciples ((Matthew 28:18-20): We are to share the gospel (good news of salvation) with the whole world, encouraging one another in the faith, helping one another, and repeating the process. Western Christians have this idea that only missionaries or pastors are meant to “evangelize”. This is simply not true. We are all called to be disciples and make disciples who make disciples…you get the idea. We all have something to contribute to the body of Christ.
When I read this list what stands out to me is this. To make disciples it is crucial to first and foremost be a disciple! When we all make the decision to not only sing about following Jesus but purpose to obey His commands to LOVE God and people (letting go of the things which this world offers, embracing all which the Lord offers) we will be on the right track so movements and church plantings and the church will do all it is meant to do in our society and the world.